Patients to have named doctor dedicated to their care

Following the well publicised failings at Stafford Hospital, there has been a full inquiry looking in detail at the care provided by the hospital Trust. It concluded that abuse and neglect within the hospital caused avoidable deaths of some patients. The Francis Report makes a number of recommendations for how Trusts as a whole should address these issues to avoid similar problems in the future. 

One of these recommendations is that patients should have a named Doctor who oversees the whole of their treatment. 

Traditionally, this is something that is always supposed to have happened, because patients always have a Consultant who is nominally in charge of their care. But whether they ever meet that Consultant is another matter. This is therefore a small change, but one that could have significant benefits for patients. Many of our clients complain that they never see the same doctor twice when they are being treated, which often leads to feelings of frustration and not being listened to or understood. 

The recommendations of the Academy of Royal Medical Colleges are that all patients should know who is in charge of their care and the named clinician must have regular contact with their patients. In addition patients should also have the name of a nurse on the ward who will be available to answer questions. 

The advantage to patients is clear, but the wider benefit of these proposals is that each clinician will have a list of patients for whose welfare and care they are responsible. This means that it should be far less likely that patients will be forgotten or left without care, which is a significant element in how the position at Stafford became so serious. 

There are many fundamental changes to be made to improve standards at Stafford. But this simple change may prove to have a significant positive impact for Trusts as a whole. This is a move that we welcome as it is likely to have benefits not only for patient experience but also patient care.